Today host and ULC minister Hoda Kotb
With her wedding postponed indefinitely, one bride got treated to a surprise ceremony – with an even more surprising officiant.

Love overcomes all, even a pandemic! The wedding of Melanie Mulvihill and Johnny Sizer was supposed to take place on April 18th, and despite all the months of planning and preparation, the event had to be cancelled. Melanie found herself feeling especially sad with the cancellation of her wedding coinciding with Easter. "This weekend should be so exciting," she explained. "Spending time with family. Getting ready for the wedding. And I just started crying. I was like, 'This sucks. This is not what I pictured.'"

They weren't alone of course – bans on group gatherings and social distancing requirements due to Covid-19 have put the brakes on countless wedding plans the world over. But this lucky couple had a surprise awaiting them. 

A Surprise Officiant

With the wedding now tentatively pushed back to November (and even that date was questionable), Melanie's fiance and best friend began cooking up a surprise for her. They reached out to Universal Life Church minister and host of the Today show Hoda Kotb, who agreed to officiate via videoconference. The group then put the secret plans into action. 

The ruse all started with a Zoom call planned for the bride, groom, and the maid of honor. Melanie was told it was a call just to touch base and have a toast in honor of the wedding that should have taken place.  What she did not expect was that her closest friends and loved ones began popping into the call to add their well wishes!

She was surprised to see them all, even the pastor that was supposed to officiate the wedding stopped in to say a few words about the couple.  But then he paused and said something was missing, and ULC minister Hoda Kotb popped on the screen and performed the ceremony!

Minister Hoda Kotb to the Rescue

Melanie is apparently a huge Today show fan and watches every morning, so Hoda was a wonderful choice of guest officiant. “I was in shock.  I couldn't believe what was going on. The surprises just kept on building on each other, getting better. And once it was over, I was like, 'Oh my God. Did that really just happen?'" Melanie said. 

Once the couple exchanged vows in front of their friends and family live, they were encouraged to have their first dance to the song they had selected for the wedding, “Yours” by Russell Dickerson. When they got up to dance, the singer song-writer Russel Dickerson himself joined the Zoom call to add a live performance to the incredible day of surprises. 

Changing Times and Workarounds

Seeing the adaptability and perseverance of the human spirit has been a distinct silver lining during this ongoing crisis. The Universal Life Church is so proud to be a part of a wonderful story and able to provide assistance to couples for their wedding days, via Zoom or otherwise.  

Finally, a reminder to keep up to date with your local marriage rules. Several states like New York and Colorado are updating their laws during this time to offer flexibility to couples with wedding plans. We imagine many other states will follow suit as we collectively adapt during the Covid-19 shutdowns, so if you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure to check with the marriage authority in your area to see if they are putting any workarounds in place.


  1. Ty Ford's Avatar Ty Ford

    Is Hoda one of us?

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Well, she’s obviously a Minister so good for her to officiate. Another happy couple starts their committed life together in love. How wonderful!


  1. Reverend Cory's Avatar Reverend Cory

    Good for her. Congratulations to the happy couple.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    What more can we say about such a topic than "Congratulations!" We're ready for something else now. Hello, is anyone listening? We're bored shitless at home, and need subjects we can discuss. Even more of those goofy stories y'all are good about giving us, please. But something we can discuss, or even argue about, Okay?

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    As my county office says, until they received the certificate of marriage it is not legal. All parties must sign the form so it does not matter who does what, when. So I can marry two people a ten feet apart or across town until I put my name on that form and the county gets it they are still single swingers.

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